Riding on air


By Peter Hadfield in Tokyo DESPITE its name, that famous old steam engine the Flying Scotsman never flew—but now engineers in Japan are developing trains that really do fly. Using the “wing-in-ground” (WIG) effect, in which a high-pressure cushion of air forms underneath flying objects as they approach the ground, they believe they will be able to create trains that use only a quarter of the power required for magnetically levitated (maglev) trains. The WIG effect can be seen when you drop a sheet of paper and it scoots along the floor. In the same way,
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